I stand in the elevator
at the end my work day
and observe the image
that stares blankly back at me
from the mirrored doors.
The snaps on my Abaya have popped open. First the bottom half when I got out of the car. Then the top third when I slung my backpack over my shoulder. Now, only the two in the center – the two snaps between bellybutton and pubic bone – are still stuck together holding this gloom, this, this obscuration, this dark umbrage they call “protection” vaguely in place. I notice that I look the same as I feel: beat. exhausted. defeated.
I do not feel feel protected.
The baby blue camisole, damp from sweat, shows my form:
2-inch cleavage, a deep slit that divides me – left and right – straight as an arrow, bold as an arrogant threat;
2 sagging bulges, heavier than the polka-dotted brazier I chose to hold them in today;
soft, swollen belly, vulnerable, but proud of its efforts – mindless laboring to keep me alive;
shadows of stilt-like legs that hold heavy, aching hips that brazenly reveal their shape, even from behind the black curtain I wear to work.
My eyes move up to take in the image of my face:
Cheeks flush; freckles faded from winter’s gentler sun; dark bags sit under my eyes.
Eyes. Green. More green than normal today.
Hmmm, kinda pretty, I muse.
I lean in closer
to my image
in the door
to better examine my eyes.
The wounded soul is showing!
Thank God I’ve arrived.
The fifth floor.
The doors open.
I deliberately blink my eyes, rapidly fluttering the sticky black lashes.
Yes, I’m trying to conjure up some wind.
Yes, I’m trying to push the wounded soul back into hiding.
As I plod the dark hallway to my apartment, I exhale heavily with each left step
(breath rebounds as right foot thuds, like a heavy limp),
and I push
the wounded soul
into Cleavage Canyon.